The Vikings announced the signing of 16 free agents on Tuesday after days of trying to track down confirmed reports of who was in, who was not, and who might be getting a crack at the roster. Here are your 16 guys with a brief note on each:
James Vandenberg, QB, Iowa: Made a name for himself in 2011, as the best quarterback in the Big Ten, but a miserable season in 2012 killed his draft stock. The big question is whether or not the struggles were his fault or a result of the talent around him.
Erik Highsmith, WR, North Carolina: A tough and physical receiver, but struggled to get separation in college, and doesn’t have the athleticism to do it as a pro. Across the middle, in the end zone, and on special teams is where he can make himself stand out. Not a big play type of guy.
Nicholas Edwards, WR, Eastern Washington: A big receiver that seemed to be on the rise prior to a knee injury that hampered his senior season. Like Highsmith, he is more of a possession and end zone receiver, and won’t win a roster spot based off of explosive upside.
Brandan Bishop, S, N.C. State: Limited athleticism here means a limited ceiling, but Bishop arguably displays more consistency in every facet of his game than Robert Blanton, who the Vikings drafted last year, did coming out of Notre Dame. If you are looking for a guy with a real shot to stick, this might be him.
Bradley Randle, RB, UNLV: A smallish running back and return man who has played well, but his biggest claim to fame was when he laid out a return guy in considerable fashion as part of the coverage unit. He also hadn’t fumbled the football until two and a half seasons into his college career.
Jerodis Williams, RB, Furman: An interesting prospect that possesses nice size, tested well at his pro day, and can contribute as a return man. Other than a should surgery in 2012, there isn’t much to prevent Williams from being in the mix for a roster spot.
Colin Anderson, TE, Furman: Your typical developmental tight end that has good athletic ability, needs to work on his blocking, and is unlikely to ever be a dominant force. Isn’t going to burn anyone up the seam, but can be an effective possession reciever.
Zach Line, FB, SMU: Kind of a “tweener” as he isn’t big enough to be a true fullback and isn’t fast enough to be a half back. Catches the ball well enough, however, and could be utilized on short yardage situations.
Darius Eubanks, S, Georgia Southern: A big (6′ 1″ and 215 pounds) and physical safety that has been truly under the radar, but was expected to be drafted last week. Could be a wild card.
Nathan Williams, LB, Ohio State: Another talented “tweener” that seems a bit small to win a defensive end spot, but could end up pushing for time as a special teams ace type of linebacker. Has significant injury concerns that could derail his career before it even gets started.
Camden Wentz, C, N.C. State: Was a bright spot on an awful O-line. He will have some struggles against bigger, strong defensive linemen in the NFL, but could be a developmental backup.
Marquis Jackson, DE, Portland State: The twin brother of Malik Jackson, fifth round pick of the Broncos last year, who has jumped around from school to school. He has posted very good sack numbers wherever he goes, however, and could be an interesting situational speed rusher at the next level.
Mark Jackson, T, Glenville State: Jackson started off at Illinois but left because of off-field stuff. He redeemed himself at Glenville with his play, and also became the team captain and team MVP in his senior season.
Collins Ukwu, DE, Kentucky: Never has posted great sack numbers, but he has the size (6′ 4″ – 257 pounds) that is worth bringing to camp just in case the light bulb comes on.
Anthony McCloud, DT, Florida State: Yet another Florida State addition for the Vikings. An unspectacular nose tackle that has the size to be a presence at the line, even against NFL competition. Remember, Pat Williams went undrafted, as well.
Rodney Smith, WR Florida State: Has known Xavier Rhodes since high school. A tall, but lean, wide out that is capable of taking the top off a defense. Florida State was a run-first offense and he still posted decent production and learned how to contribute with solid blocks. I could easily see him becoming a fan favorite during training camp by burning third-string defenders for long touchdowns.